A #FreeOakland movement: High school students march against police brutality

by Ana Lapota, Poor News Network

The plaza at Fruitvale BART resonated with angry, hardcore and inspiring speeches by high school students on Dec. 15. – Photo: Poor News Network
The plaza at Fruitvale BART resonated with angry, hardcore and inspiring speeches by high school students on Dec. 15. – Photo: Poor News Network

On Dec. 15 in Oakland, a protest was planned, held and led by students on the issue of police brutality. It was held at the Fruitvale BART Station where Oscar Grant had unfortunately lost his life at the hands of BART police officers. Over 200 students gathered to have their voices heard – and they would not take no for an answer.

Youths who are angry with what is happening made hardcore and inspiring speeches. One was about the Oakland Unified School District bringing military tanks to schools and making it seem like it’s the students who are the savages and criminals. Another speech was about how the youth are tired of seeing people of color die on the news.

The Dec. 15 rally at the Fruitvale BART Station and subsequent march to Lake Merritt was organized and led by high school students. – Photo: Poor News Network
The Dec. 15 rally at the Fruitvale BART Station and subsequent march to Lake Merritt was organized and led by high school students. – Photo: Poor News Network

We also had the privilege to hear from Francisco, who was a victim of police brutality. He is a disabled young man from Oakland High School who was hit repeatedly by one of the security guards at his school. As he spoke, I could feel everyone’s energy and spirit begin to rise like warriors ready for battle.

However, the funny thing is that the government spends millions of dollars for police officers, yet when it comes to students’ education they only spend thousands of dollars. And they turned a school that had the best restorative justice program in the state into a police station after the government claimed it was “low on funding.” This probably explains why my school can’t afford air conditioning, quality cafeteria food or even new textbooks.

Overall, it was really an inspiring movement held by students who care more about their community than officers. They then had their die-in for four minutes and 28 seconds to represent how long Michael Brown lay on the ground exposed to his community.

The 200 high schoolers and, in the foreground, some younger students from Deecolonize Academy staged a die-in on the rain-soaked pavement outside Fruitvale BART. – Photo: Poor News Network
The 200 high schoolers and, in the foreground, some younger students from Deecolonize Academy staged a die-in on the rain-soaked pavement outside Fruitvale BART. – Photo: Poor News Network

After that, the students marched from Fruitvale to Lake Merritt, chanting as loud as they possibly could: “Michael Brown was 18. Do you know what racist means?” and “No justice, no peace, we’re taking over our streets.” People were banging on bus windows and some people even got out of their cars and walked with us.

At Lake Merritt we then held a candlelight vigil to honor all the victims of police brutality.

It was truly a #FreeOakland movement! With everything that happened on this day, we were one step closer to freeing everyone from oppression, incarceration, inequality, but most of all police brutality.

Ana Lapota is a RYME Youth Skola at Deecolonize Academy, located at Homefulness, 8032 MacArthur Blvd in Deep East Oakland. Contact her via deeandtiny@poormagazine.org.